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"To scree" or not "to scree" - that is the question
June 28, 2012 7:17 AM   Subscribe

[Asking for a friend]: There is some sci-fi book I read at some point which I think was famous enough to be known by lots of folks in which the term "to scree" or "to skry" (or something very similar) was used to see the contents of people's minds (?) or the future (?). Help. Whats the actual term? And, what is the book and or series and or author?
posted by googly to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Don't know the book, but the term is probably "to scry".
posted by bswinburn at 7:21 AM on June 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, definitely scry. Not at all specific to one book/series/author/world/genre. Just a word.
posted by Perplexity at 7:22 AM on June 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Scrying
posted by inturnaround at 7:22 AM on June 28, 2012


But the word is used by Tolkien in connection with the palantiri in The Lord of the Rings — could that be the book?
posted by ubiquity at 7:24 AM on June 28, 2012


Scrying it is. It’s a term used here & there in John Crowley’s Ægypt books, if I remember correctly.
posted by misteraitch at 7:27 AM on June 28, 2012


maybe something in the Vampire: The Masquerade series?
posted by bunny hugger at 7:29 AM on June 28, 2012


It's used a lot in Eragon and its sequels.
posted by something something at 7:30 AM on June 28, 2012


I learned about it in Aegypt and it's scrying. Used to be "ascry" back in the day.
posted by jessamyn at 7:32 AM on June 28, 2012


Fantasy authors are extremely likely to use "scry", but it would be extremely rare in sci-fi.

Is your friend conflating fantasy with sci-fi, perhaps?
posted by batmonkey at 7:36 AM on June 28, 2012


I remember a science fiction series that had scrying - a woman with the unique ability to see potential futures. It was, at least, a three part series. It was definitely sent in a science-fiction style galaxy of inhabited planets. In the first book she's a child, in the second book a teen, and in the third a young adult. But I can't remember the name of the series or the author.
posted by muddgirl at 7:40 AM on June 28, 2012


I think the the rowan series by anne mccaffrey was a sci fi series with scrying. A lot of sci-fi books with fantasy elements would fit that category, too - the Darkover series is another one that comes to mind.
posted by randomnity at 7:44 AM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Muddgirl: Are you thinking of "Soothsayer", "Oracle", and "Prophet" by Mike Resnick?

The young woman in that book could see all possible futures and use something like "the butterfly effect" to pick among them, making her effectively all powerful. Like most of Resnick's books they're short, fun, and deeply silly.

I don't remember the term scrying used in them a lot though.
posted by bswinburn at 7:47 AM on June 28, 2012


Yeah, that's the one I'm thinking of - I thought they used that term but I'm probably wrong.
posted by muddgirl at 7:48 AM on June 28, 2012


I remember it from Madeleine L'Engle's A Swiftly Tilting Planet.
posted by magicbus at 7:49 AM on June 28, 2012


It's just an archaic word meaning "to see":
Such were these Hags, and so unhandsome drest:
Who when they nigh approching had espyde
Sir Artegall, returned from his late quest.
They both arose, and at him loudly cryde.
As it had bene two shepheards curres had scryde
A ravenous Wolfe amongst the scattered flockes:
And Envie first, as she that first him eyde,
Towardes him runs, and, with rude flaring lockes
About her eares, does beat her brest and forhead knockes.
The Faerie Queene, 1590. But yeah, the only place I've seen it used in modern times is Tolkien and Dungeons and Dragons type stuff, referring to some sort of sorcerous sight.
posted by XMLicious at 7:52 AM on June 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also the name of the magazine that published all the Magic: The Gathering card prices, back in the day.
posted by theodolite at 8:03 AM on June 28, 2012


I think the original word was from Old French and in English: descry.
The scry thing probably originated as a poetical dropping of the de part.
And then used in fantasy fiction to sound, uh, fantastical.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 8:09 AM on June 28, 2012


I believe it was His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass, the Amber Spyglass, and the Subtle Knife) by Phillip Pullman. The main character, Lyra, has a scrying glass which allows her to ask questions about the future.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:41 AM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think in A Swiftly Tilting Planet it's "kything" not "scrying." BUT I'm still putting in a vote for it because based on the description of the process that was the first book I thought of too. And it's the most SF-ish book in any of the answers so far. I think there's kything in other L'Engle books too.
posted by mskyle at 9:13 AM on June 28, 2012


It's "scrying" in D&D, so anything that lifts its swords-and-sorcery basics from there is likely to have it.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:44 AM on June 28, 2012


Kything is I beiieve from Scottish 'to know'.
posted by MidSouthern Mouth at 11:40 AM on June 28, 2012


Yep, this is just a regular word so it isn't specific to any series or books. You'll likely have to narrow it down a little more if you want to identify the novels.
posted by Justinian at 1:29 PM on June 28, 2012


It is used quite often in Gene Wolfe's series Book of the Long Sun.

It's used by Patera Silk. Do you remember Patera Silk? Because if you do, these are the books you're looking for. What about Oreb?
posted by One Hand Slowclapping at 3:10 PM on June 28, 2012


Maybe your friend is thinking of grok from Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land.
My suggestion is based more on the fact that it's a term associated with that particular novel and would be used to identify it rather than the meaning of the terms.
posted by jaimystery at 5:29 PM on June 28, 2012


But the word is used by Tolkien in connection with the palantiri

the only place I've seen it used in modern times is Tolkien and Dungeons and Dragons type stuff

Just for the record, Tolkien does not use the word in print (unless someone has a cite to prove me wrong?). He did use descry in its common meaning quite frequently.
posted by wilko at 2:16 PM on June 29, 2012


theodolite: "Also the name of the magazine that published all the Magic: The Gathering card prices, back in the day"

No, the magazine was named Scrye.
posted by Perplexity at 10:43 AM on July 12, 2012


Turns out it was indeed Eragon. Thanks for all the answers - fascinating how often it has been used.
posted by googly at 4:58 PM on August 11, 2012


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